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Updated: March 21st, 2012 1:53pm
Wild's Mikko Koivu cleared to return for Thursday's game vs. Calgary

Wild's Mikko Koivu cleared to return for Thursday's game vs. Calgary

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu has been cleared to return for Thursday night's game against the Calgary Flames after being sidelined since Feb. 16 because of a shoulder injury.

"I'm very excited," said Koivu, whose team will complete a five-game homestand on Thursday. "It's been a long couple weeks here and it's feeling good to be out there practicing. But, obviously, a game situation is what you're looking for."

The injury has bothered the Wild captain for far longer than a couple of weeks.

He initially hurt his shoulder in mid-January in St. Louis and missed eight games. He returned to play in four games, but hurt the shoulder again in the middle of last month. The two absences cost Koivu a combined 27 games.

Koivu, who was picked for the NHL All-Star Game this season but did not participate because of the injury, is third on the Wild in scoring with 37 points, including 10 goals.

Koivu's return is a bit curious considering the Wild has fallen far out of the playoff race and have only 10 games remaining.

Koivu mentioned the Wild's performance in a 2-0 victory over Vancouver on Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center as an example of the way he feels the team can play for the rest of this season.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Mikko Koivu
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